What’s so special about Fargo North Dakota?

Fargo is the most populous city in the U.S. state of North Dakota, accounting for nearly 17% of the state’s total population. Located along the Red River in the eastern part of the state, Fargo is known for its thriving economy, low unemployment rate, and high quality of life. But what exactly makes this mid-sized city in the Upper Midwest such a special place to live and work? Here’s a closer look at some of the things that set Fargo apart.

Booming Economy

One of Fargo’s standout features is its robust and rapidly growing economy. With major industries like agriculture, healthcare, higher education, and tech, Fargo has managed to largely avoid the economic downturns that other parts of the country have experienced in recent decades. This is evident in statistics like Fargo’s exceptionally low unemployment rate, which has hovered around 2-3% in recent years – a full 2% below the national average. The city also has a high labor force participation rate and impressive job growth in fields like healthcare, construction, and professional services.

Much of Fargo’s economic success can be attributed to the presence of three major universities in the area – North Dakota State University, Minnesota State University Moorhead, and Concordia College. These institutions help train a skilled workforce and create opportunities for research, innovation, and entrepreneurship. The universities also employ thousands of people and bring in money spent by students and visitors.

Thriving Arts and Culture Scene

Despite its small size relative to major metropolises, Fargo punches above its weight class when it comes to arts and culture. Residents have access to Broadway shows, indie films, author events, concerts, art galleries, and more. The Fargo Theatre is an art deco movie palace that hosts film screenings and live performances. The Plains Art Museum features regional and national visual art. The Fargo-Moorhead Opera is one of the oldest opera companies in the United States. And venues like the Fargo Civic Center bring major touring productions to town.

Fargo’s thriving arts scene can be attributed in part to its universities and robust economy – both of which help support cultural institutions and events. But many also credit the community’s enthusiasm for the arts, which led the citizens of Fargo to approve a tax to support cultural organizations. This grassroots dedication to the arts makes Fargo’s cultural offerings uniquely impressive for a city of its size.

Abundant Recreational Opportunities

Fargo and its surrounding areas provide endless options for outdoor recreation and healthy living. There are over 50 parks within the Fargo city limits, including Lindenwood Park with its wooded trails, Rendezvous Park with facilities for baseball and disc golf, and Oak Grove Park with a farmer’s market and amphitheater hosting live music.

The Fargo-Moorhead area is full of biking and walking trails that wind through town and along the Red River. The Fargo Marathon attracts thousands of runners from across the country and has been ranked one of the top small marathons. The city also has yoga studios, rock climbing gyms, ice skating rinks, and more.

Winter recreation is also a major attraction in Fargo, from downhill skiing at Detroit Mountain to cross country ski trails in parks and golf courses across town. Ice fishing is popular on the frozen lakes during the cold months. And the Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks provide baseball entertainment all summer long at Newman Outdoor Field downtown.

Low Cost of Living

The cost of living in Fargo is approximately 15% below the national average, making it very affordable compared to other mid-sized metro areas. Housing is plentiful and relatively inexpensive, with the median home price around $250,000 as of 2022. Groceries, utilities, transportation, and other living expenses are lower here than the typical U.S. city.

At the same time, incomes in Fargo tend to be higher than other places with a comparable cost of living. All of this combines to give Fargo residents great buying power. Workers moving here from other parts of the country will likely find they can stretch their dollars further. Rising housing costs remain a concern, but overall Fargo still offers an excellent value for the amenities it provides.

High Quality Healthcare

Modern healthcare facilities and competent medical professionals make Fargo a great place to receive top-notch medical care. The city’s two major health systems – Sanford Health and Essentia Health – operate large hospitals with Level II trauma centers as well as extensive outpatient clinics.

Specialty care options are also abundant, from cancer treatment centers to organ transplant facilities. Both children’s and women’s health services are available. And cutting-edge telemedicine technology provides rural communities with virtual access to Fargo’s healthcare expertise.

With two major universities training nurses and other healthcare professionals, patients benefit from being treated by some of the latest products of medical education programs. The city’s appeal to professionals also makes it easier for hospitals to recruit talented physicians, even in hard-to-fill specialties.

Highly Educated Workforce

Supporting Fargo’s strong economy is an exceptionally educated workforce. Nearly 35% of area residents hold a bachelor’s degree or higher, compared to just over 30% of the population nationally. Graduate and professional degree holders are also more prevalent in Fargo than typical U.S. metro areas.

This abundance of skilled labor can be attributed in part to the presence of several well-regarded universities. North Dakota State University and Minnesota State University Moorhead together enroll over 30,000 students and confer more than 5,000 degrees annually. Concordia College and a campus of the University of Minnesota system are also located in Fargo.

The city also attracts and retains college graduates thanks to its thriving job market, quality of life, and business incentives. Major local employers like Microsoft and John Deere ensure opportunities abound for skilled technical workers and professionals alike.

Family-Friendly Atmosphere

Fargo offers an extremely family-friendly environment, frequently appearing on lists of the best places to live and raise a family. Public schools perform well, with high graduation rates and test scores above state and national averages. Families have their pick of high-caliber private schools as well.

Low crime rates mean parents can feel secure letting their kids play outside around town. There are also plenty of family entertainment options, from the Red River Zoo to skating rinks and water parks. Museums like the Children’s Museum at Yunker Farm provide interactive educational experiences. And events like the Red River Market feature kids’ activities along with live music and shopping.

The affordable cost of living makes it possible for families to own a home here without breaking the bank. Add in plentiful jobs, quality schools, and family amenities, and it’s easy to see why Fargo is ideal for raising kids.

Vibrant Dining Scene

You may not expect it from a small Midwestern city, but Fargo boasts an impressively vibrant dining scene with options to suit just about any palate. In downtown alone, foodies can find trendy bistros, gastropubs, sushi bars, and more. Iconic restaurants like Mexican Village have been neighborhood favorites for decades. And the influx of new residents from around the globe has brought authentic ethnic cuisine to town.

Fargo’s colleges help fuel and sustain innovative restaurants by providing a steady stream of young diners. Food events like the Downtown Street Fair allow new chefs and food trucks to showcase their creations. Locally-owned eateries and craft breweries thrive thanks to community support. And seasonal outdoor dining along the river adds to Fargo’s culinary appeal during the warmer months.

Between the classic diners and upscale farm-to-table offerings, it’s safe to say this northern prairie city delivers big on taste.

Neighborhood Diversity

With vibrant neighborhoods ranging from trendy downtown lofts to quiet suburban cul-de-sacs, Fargo offers diverse options when it comes to choosing where to live. Downtown is seeing a revitalization with restaurants, shops, and residential spaces bringing fresh energy. Neighborhoods near NDSU like Hawthorne give residents a mix of classic and contemporary homes near campus. North Fargo offers affluent subdivisions and easy access to outdoor activities. And developing south Fargo provides new suburban construction perfect for young families.

Neighborhoods range from walkable and quaint like Madison-Clara Barton to more automobile-centric areas of new construction. Housing stock includes everything from historic to modern. So whether your perfect home is a cozy bungalow or sleek condo, Fargo has the neighborhood to match.

Community Spirit

For all its growth, Fargo maintains a strong sense of community characterized by Midwestern warmth and hospitality. Neighbors still wave hello and look out for one another. Locally-owned businesses thrive thanks to loyal regulars. Festivals and events like the Red River Valley Fair see people across the metro come together.

Residents take great pride in both longtime traditions and the city’s continuing evolution. There’s a palpable energy and optimism about the future. And community assets like schools, parks, arts organizations, and more enjoy broad-based support.

This welcoming small-town feel combined with cosmopolitan growth opportunities makes Fargo a place where people and businesses can put down roots and grow.


So what makes Fargo special? In summary, this mid-sized Midwestern hub offers exceptional economic opportunities, plentiful amenities, a thriving arts scene, great schools, ample recreation, and a vibrant culture – all at a reasonable cost of living. It’s a city where families can flourish, businesses can prosper, and individuals can find fulfillment. Fargo truly combines the best of small town charm and metropolitan progress. For these reasons and more, Fargo emerges as a uniquely livable city.